The absence of effective teamwork in the health and social care system is holding back improvements to Oxfordshire’s patient care, according to a new report by the health watchdog.
A review by the Care Quality Commission revealed that, although staff are dedicated, there was a lack of joined-up thinking between the five organisations responsible for providing care across the county.
According to the CQC, the lack of collaboration has led to a ‘fragmented system’ where there was duplication of effort and, at times, a reactive attitude to meeting standards.
The report, published on Monday, did however praise a “highly dedicated” workforce that ‘goes the extra mile’ and acknowledged an “increased ambition” among health leaders.
The review, carried out by three reviewers, an analyst and five specialist advisors, said: “In Oxfordshire we found that there was a lack of whole system strategic planning and commissioning with little collaboration between system partners.
“Although there was increased ambition to work together system leaders continued to face significant challenges in coming together to formalise their ambitions through a joint strategic approach.”
Inspectors visited services provided by Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust in November and December last year.
CQC assessors found the problems of recruiting care staff in Oxfordshire, which has a very high cost of living, were holding back improvement, as were incompatible computer systems across different organisations.
North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis, who has long battled closures at the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, said the report was the “reality check the system needed”.
However, the inspectors found that Oxfordshire had made progress in tackling ‘delayed transfers of care’, where people are unable to leave hospital when they are medically fit to do so.
The county also achieves a good or outstanding CQC rating across all areas of health and social care, which is above the national average.
The CQC highlighted three key areas of improvements. Recommendations include making services more local, improving information available to people who fund their own care and investing more in recruitment and retention of care staff.